At a time when the High Street is under so much pressure, Stroud and the Five Valleys are very lucky to have property developer Mark Dransfield in their corner.
This blunt, creative Yorkshireman is putting his money where his mouth is and tells me he intends to invest £30 million in Stroud over the next five years.
Mark, who is based in Sheffield, has a clear vision to help to make Gloucestershire proud of Stroud.
I liken him to a mini John Whittaker, owner of Peel Holdings, whose vision over 25 years ago led to the foundations of the regeneration of Gloucester.
Have you seen how the tired old Merrywalks centre is now being transformed as the Five Valleys shopping centre?
It has a feel of the Burlington Arcade in the West End already in its early stages. It exudes quality and detail.
So does the entrance based on the glass canopy Mark saw at the Hermitage Hotel in Monaco.
“I am keen to understand detail”, Mark says. “The attention to detail is what we do and that sets us apart from all the others”.
Dransfield Properties landed in Stroud two years ago after their bankers asked them to look at the failing Merrywalks Centre.
“Next Christmas people will be able to park in the car park and travel between the floors in new lifts. There will be all new shops in the Edwardian gallery”, says Mark, whose company is now the largest builder of supermarkets in the UK.
He wants his development to encourage more people to live and work in Stroud centre.
They have already let three of the flats on the site - having seen them I think they are of the highest quality with good detail.
And the next phase of the development is to create office space above the Edwardian shop gallery.
Mark pays great tribute to David Hagg, the now retired chief executive of Stroud District Council for encouraging him to come to finally invest in Stroud.
“He was the deciding factor”, says Mark.
That early encouragement has now been strengthened by GFirstLEP with funding to the tune of £3 million.
This is an exciting project for Stroud District and Gloucestershire which needs our continuing support.